Adventures In Babysitting Grandparents
I was a bit M.I.A. last week because I spent the week at Nana and Pop Pop’s house, helping them out after their recent, repeated stays in the hospital since the beginning of the year.
It was so much fun to spend time with them by myself, but at the same time, I am really glad I never had twins. I am quite certain chasing around twin toddlers would have been easier than chasing around two 80 plus year old ornery grandparents who defiantly refuse to listen to instructions, either their doctors’ or mine.
At any rate, it took a few days to adjust to having breakfast (as in real breakfast, not just coffee) before my body had actually woken up, to having “dinner” at 1030, and having “supper” at 1600, followed by a quick nap (them, not me – I made them go lie down so I could clean the kitchen by myself so they didn’t break a bone and end up back in the hospital).
Then, came the nightly battle of Yahtzee and/or Dominoes. Well, well, well…. I finally have discovered where oh where my competitive streak really comes from. Oh, and also, my mouth. I mean, I had an idea, but it has been confirmed.
DAY ONE: Dominoes
I had forgotten the exact “rules” of dominoes, as I had not played the game probably since I was eight or so…with my grandparents. It didn’t take long to remember, as it was apparently survival of the fittest and google that shit on the internet if you didn’t want to lose to the shifty old guy chuckling with the score pad or the innocent-looking granny who pretended she didn’t know how many tiles she had procured so she could put back the one she didn’t like. I’m on to you, Nana and Papaw. I am so on to you, now.
The first night, I lost handily, with Pop Pop coming in second and Nana crushing us in Dominoes.
THEN, they pulled out Yahtzee. I’m calling fakers on the whole COPD, bilateral pneumonia, CHF, heart-attack having old people. They were running a racket on me. Or, I would’ve suspected as much if we had been playing for money.
WARNING: If you EVER have the opportunity to play Yahtzee with Nana, keep your face and particularly your nose far away from her fists (basically, her wing span) whenever she rolls a Yahtzee (which she will do, because she and Pop Pop take extra rolls whenever it’s ‘close enough’ or ‘that one took a bad roll.’) She fist pumps like a BOSS when she hits that Yahtzee, especially if she does it in the requisite three rolls. I almost got a bloody nose and a black eye.
Yahtzee is a full contact sport with my grandparents, no doubt.
After we broke up the shenanigans for night one because I was tired – they could’ve gone three more rounds – Nana went to bed and I tried to usher Pop Pop to bed because they both had doctor appointments early the next morning. Pop Pop declined, and shuffled his way into his office to watch a movie and read a book. For those unfamiliar with Pop Pop’s story, this position is the exact one he was in when he fell asleep at his desk, fell out of his desk chair and broke his neck four years ago, thus starting the whole downward spiral that placed them in independent living.
DAY TWO: Rental Cars, Bubble Ice Cream, Nuts, and Table Clearing Bullshit
There was some family D-rama, as is inevitable, whilst Nana was in inpatient rehab following her hospital stay for pneumonia and prior to Pop Pop’s heart attack visit to the capital of the Heart of It All (bad pun intended), so I spent part of the morning dealing with their car insurance company on their behalf because 1.) I can hear; and 2.) Pop Pop is okay with me threatening people, whereas he gets pissed off if either of his daughters do it for him. IDK – being the favorite has its perks???
So, I managed to swing them a car rental for an undetermined amount of time since the asshole jerk that totaled their car without permission to drive said car, bailed and is doing nothing to make them whole again regarding replacing their less than two year old car. Because of the state-wide flooding, finding a full-size rental car in southern Ohio turned out to be a challenge. Challenge accepted. On my fourth Enterprise dealership, I found a car in Jackson, Ohio, so off Nana, my mom, and I went to procure said rental car. On our way to Jackson, my mom asked if I remembered going to Jackson when I was little to get fresh roasted nuts at a place called “Michael’s.”
Ummmmm, no????? Well, apparently we did. A lot. And I had no recollection of said place. My grandma, however, did, and once my mom mentioned it, sweet Moses on top of Mt. Sinai getting the Ten Commandments, we were going to Michael’s because Nana NEEDED NUTS.
So, after the hour it took to get the car, Nana hopped in the driver’s seat of the rental car (not knowing where Michael’s had been moved to.) I let her drive directly across the street to the gas station and yelled, “Chinese Fire Drill!” I made her hop out of the car (seriously, she hadn’t even managed to buckle her seatbelt yet), and I got into the driver’s seat, and buckled both our seatbelts and off we went to find some roasted nuts.
Once we found the what will forever be referred to as the glorious confection known as the “Bubble Ice Cream Heavenly Dream which also roasts nuts known as Michael’s,” we walked in and started checking out the nuts.
Don’t get me wrong. The nuts were tasty.
But then I asked the owner, who is the fourth generation owner of Michael’s, what on earth a Bubble is. She explained to me that it is this concoction that starts with homemade chocolate sauce on the bottom, topped with vanilla ice cream, then covered with a ridiculous (but not inappropriate) amount of (again) homemade marshmallow cream, then topped off with smashed nuts. What are smashed nuts, you ask, besides every divorced woman’s dream?
Smashed nuts are Michael’s mixture of their roasted Spanish peanuts, roasted Red peanuts, and blanched peanuts. The combination, which are smashed by hand in a meat grinder and then spread over the Bubble, taste like a Butterfinger.
Nana and I both ordered “Baby Bubbles,” which were the smallest size we could order. While we ate the whole damn Bubbles, we pontificated over who in the world could eat the “Jumbo Bubble.”
As I waited to cash out, buying a Bubble Kit to take home to Ace and the kids, a pound of Spanish peanuts for Nana and Pop Pop, and a pound of Smashed Nuts for me, just because um, did you read my description above????, I asked the owner if she had ever considered doing a “Man vs. Food” type challenge with the Jumbo Bubble. She laughed and said, “Yes ma’am, I have, then I realized I’d go broke in a week. Do you know that these high school students come in here after school and demolish that thing in under a half hour? There is A PINT of ice cream in a jumbo and I don’t even know how much chocolate and marshmallow and they LICK IT CLEAN. I’d go BROKE.”
I’d say at the rate people were filing in asking for Bubbles to go, she won’t go broke for a long time. Also, do yourself a favor if you are ever passing through Jackson, Ohio. Stop by Michael’s for a Bubble and some roasted nuts. You’re welcome.
I plugged Nana and Pop Pop’s address into Waze to get us back to their place, as my mom had split to go back to her place, and I had no idea how to get us back from the middle of Jackson to the middle of another place in Southern Ohio with where I was unfamiliar. Samantha (as I have dubbed my Waze voice) took us through another obscure part of my state that I have never before seen. It was pretty. There were no banjos. There was, however, a lot of water. The flooding is still there, and it has been devastating.
We got back home, and Pop Pop was making “supper” already. Mind you, Nana and I were full from our Bubbles and I couldn’t stuff one more single thing in my face at that point. So, they ate, I did some laundry, got their golf cart hauled off because short story made long, Ace and I were unable to get the damn thing to charge, even with the help of my uncle, the golf pro, and my husband, the other golf pro, both working on it via phone. It was painful for me to watch, in all honesty. I just called maintenance and had them tow it to their shop to fix it. Much easier. And isn’t that what they pay for to live there? Anyhow…
We started with Dominoes for our after dinner relaxation. Except, apparently when Nana isn’t winning, dominoes is not fucking relaxing. FOR ANYBODY.
I was actually winning. And not on purpose. I have found that playing games with my grandparents is a lot like playing games with my kids when they were learning how to play games – I don’t mind letting them win. Granted, with my kids, I never let them win. I would consider letting my grandparents win. Well, I would’ve until Nana almost gave me a heart attack at their kitchen table.
Nana kept going out first, and Pop Pop and I kept turning up as our last tiles, the blank tile and the tile that had a “one” on it. After Nana lost about six rounds in a row and had to draw about six tiles before I went out one times, thus giving her a LOT of points, and then Pop Pop did the same the next round, she freaking lost it.
I mean, cleared the whole damn table, sent dominoes flying, we had to duck for cover as she yelled, “WELL, SHIIITTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!!”
As I slowly came up from under the kitchen table and made eye contact with Pop Pop, who had pulled the top of the Dominoes tin in front of his face since he couldn’t dive because of his BROKEN NECK and loose screw, he had to find a Riot Shield to protect his face.
Nana started laughing and then Pop Pop started laughing.
“I don’t see what was so fucking funny about that, unless it was the fact that Nana has now earned her middle name (which was my great-grandmother’s name – of which, my great-grandfather always preceded it with “Well, Shit, Louise!” when she was being exasperating.) I mean, you could’ve put one of our eye’s out, kid!” I said.
And that sent them into an even bigger fit of hysterics.
“Picture!” Nana wheezed through her giggles. “Wish. Would have had. Picture.”
“Picture of what?!?!” I demanded, as I was picking up domino tiles that had made it into Pop Pop’s office, which was NOT an open space next to the table where we were playing.
“Your face when I cleared the table,” she managed to get out. She pulled a Kleenex out of her pocket and dabbed at the tears rolling down her cheek.
“And, what are you laughing at, old man?” I looked accusingly at Pop Pop.
“It was pretty funny, I’ve got to admit. It isn’t often that anyone puts a look of shock on your face. I almost forgot what it looked like to see you speechless and dumbfounded. And then…” he devolved into a fit of laughter for a minute before he could finish. I am so glad I could be the source of such entertainment because of a game of freaking Dominoes. “And then, you looked so indignant because she flung all the game pieces all over the room. This has been the most fun we’ve had playing dominoes ever.”
“Well, I’m glad you two children are having fun. Have fun finding the one missing domino… there is one missing and I’ve looked everywhere, including under the table.” I huffed, realizing that I hadn’t seen the two of them laugh and smile this much in years. It was making my soul happy. But seriously – that domino???? Where had it gone?
As Pop Pop got up to go grab Yahtzee, seriously????? They still thought I was going to play Yahtzee with them, crazy old fools that they were being – I did. I totally did still play. Anyhow, as he got up out of his chair, I found the missing domino – on the back of his kitchen chair behind the cushion. The laws of aerodynamics have nothing on Nana when she isn’t winning. Sorry, science.